NatureAmy

caring for creation while caring for family

Tag: birth story

My Fourth Birth Story: Our Accidental Unassisted Home Birth (Part 2)

If you missed my previous post on the details leading up to labor, be sure to read up here.  This is the rest of the story…

It was 5 AM and I lay in bed, realizing that I was having consistent contractions that were starting to hurt.  They were not too long, yet, but they were low in the front of my abdomen and felt like painful menstrual cramps.  And they came every few minutes.

“Hmmm…” I thought to myself. “This feels real – like I’m going to have this baby today…” and I started to think of all I had planned for the day and how much I could get done before I got to intense labor…  I continued to think about that until 5:45, when I finally got up to go the the bathroom and realized that my underwear and pants were a little too wet.

Had my water broke?  Nothing was actively leaking, but unless I peed my pants without realizing it, my water seemed to be broken.  I also had bloody show.  So… I got up, got dressed, and proceeded to make some breakfast before my husband, Mike, left for work.

Things were rapidly getting stronger and I had to dance around and sing through my contractions that were coming in waves with less than a minute off between them.  But I had always taken so long in labor with my others, that I really didn’t think that baby would come too soon.  Still, at 6:30 am I called one of my home birth midwives, Cindy, to let her know I was in active labor.

“Should I come now?  Or should I wait?” she wanted to know, but I was indecisive.  I kept thinking of the hours I spent in active labor with my others, so she decided that I should lay down for a bit and see how things were in 30 or 45 minutes.

I did know that my husband should NOT leave for work, though, so I told him he had to stay home.  He believed me (unlike my 3rd labor – LOL – read that story here) and started to send out emails to his students and colleagues letting them know he would not be coming in that day.

I decided that a bath would be relaxing, so I ran a hot bath.  The night before I had turned the water heater to high so that we could practice filling up the birth tub the next day.  But still thinking I was hours away from birth, I only got into the regular bathtub.  My contractions were so low down in my abdomen still that the hot water covered the most painful part and felt very good.

I knew 30 minutes had passed when my kids got up at 7 am, like clockwork.  I let them know that they were going to have a baby that day.  My oldest, Clayton was nervous about it. My second, Micah, was super excited and started dancing around the house.  Our youngest, Addamay, really didn’t know what to expect…

At that point, I felt like the intensity of labor was ramping up even more.  I knew the midwives needed to be on their way. It was 7:10 am when I called Cindy back and told her to come.  She had gotten ready and was waiting to hear back from me.

“Okay,” she said. “I’m on my way.”  No questions asked, which was nice, because I couldn’t talk much at that point.

I called my mom next, only to discover that she was snowed in (she lives over the mountain from us).  She wouldn’t be able to come for hours until the roads were open.

My brain raced with all the things I was planning to do that day, and what I wanted to do before the baby arrived.  Should I call a friend to come get the kids?  Should I call my photographer friend who wanted to take pictures?  Should I call the kids school to let them know they would be missing their home school classes that morning?

All of these things flew through my head, along with everything we still needed to prep before the baby arrived, but they all flew out of my head quickly.  I was way past the point of calling people and arranging anything at that point!

I curled up in a ball on the floor, letting the contractions roll over me, one after another , after another.  I could barely catch my breath before the next one hit.  I pictured ocean waves and boogie-boarding at the ocean (the closest I’ve ever come to surfing).  The water crashing over me and the pull of it down, and the slight panic of wondering if you will ever make it to the surface again before resurfacing, and the water rushing back out again.  I remembered Ina May Gaskin, the famous midwife’s,  description of rushes and waves for contractions and focused on riding each one out.

I know that my husband knew that baby was coming today, but like me, he had a hard time believing it would come quickly.  These things take time… but apparently NOT fourth babies… When he saw me in fetal position on the floor of our room, he knew we were getting really close.  I had to be in transition and he recognized the signs.  Mike was rushing around trying to get things ready for baby’s eminent arrival.

I was giving him the instructions of how to cover the bed with a sheet, a plastic shower curtain, and another clean sheet.  He made sure our oldest was getting breakfast for his siblings and they were all watching Netflix in the living room.

Next he hooked up the hose to the hot water spigot behind our washer machine and started to fill up the birthing tub.  It holds 150 gallons of water and we were told that we would likely have to fill it up with one hot water heater’s worth of water, then wait as the heater filled up again before adding more water.  Thankfully we have a pretty big hot water heater.  After 1 tanks worth of very hot water, and then letting the cold water continue to fill up the tub so it was not too hot, the tub was about 2/3 full.

At about 7:45, I moved from the floor to the bathroom and labored on the toilet briefly until the tub was ready.  At this point, the contractions were not any more intense than they had been on the floor, but I wasn’t sure how much more I could take.  Wave after intense wave hit me with barely a chance to breathe before the next one.

“Please God,” I remember praying desperately.  “Please let this baby come soon.”  I didn’t realize how quickly He would answer that prayer!

“It’s ready,” Mike said from where the tub was outside the bathroom door.

Taking advantage of a quick break between contractions, I got in the tub, stripping down to just my bra.

Oh, wow, that water felt amazing.  The heat brought instant relief.  It also brought the longest break between contractions that I’d had in over an hour. This longer break often occurs when labor switches from the end of transition (fully dilated at 10 cm) to the pushing stage.  When the next contraction hit, not only did I feel like I finally had a chance to catch my breath, but I also I felt the urge to push.

At this point it was almost 8 am.  I knew the midwives would be here very, very soon.  I also knew that I had never pushed for less than 20 minutes.  It seemed safe to just go with the flow and start pushing.  Surely the midwives would arrive before baby made it out!

So I pushed once. It felt so good, but I figured I should tell my husband, who was right there with me, that I was pushing.

“Are you at 10?  Should I check you?”  Not that he knows what 10 cm feels like or what he should be feeling for, but he put his hand down to see if he could feel anything.

“Uh, Amy,” he said, kind of in shock. “That’s a head.”

I knew that was the head, but it wasn’t crowning yet.  It could still take some time.

However, with the next push I could feel the baby move down, start to crown, and as I put my hand down, the head popped out.  My husband’s hand was right there with me.

“The head’s out,” he said, sounding apprehensive.  “Push the rest out.”

So I pushed and he lifted the baby out of the water and onto my chest.  The baby gave a quick cry – Thank you, God – but then stopped.

“The cords around the neck,” my husband noticed before I did and quickly unwrapped the cord and the baby cried again.  The crisis averted, I took that time to move the cord from between the legs to see-

“It’s a girl!” I cried, absolutely overcome with joy.  We wanted another girl – a sister for Addamay.  As if on cue, Addamay came into the room.  She had heard the baby cry and came in to see what was going on.

Our baby, Bethany, was slightly purple, but started to turn red.  She was still very quiet and Mike was concerned she couldn’t breath.  Neither of us was sure what to do next, but I knew that since she had cried, she must be breathing.  But why wasn’t she making any more noise?

At this point, only about 1 minute after Bethany’s arrival, Cindy, the first of the midwives to arrive, entered the room.  The look on her face was priceless.  She expected to see us laboring in the tub, but instead saw me with a newborn in my arms.

“Oh!” she said, surprised.

“She’s here…” I said.

“She?” Cindy asked.

“Yep, it’s a girl.”

Cindy came to the tub and checked her out.  Everything was perfect and she was breathing fine.

The boys were still in the other room, mesmerized by a show on Netflix, so we called them in.

“Come meet your baby sister” Mike said.

“A sister?”

“Yes. This is,… Bethany?”  I looked over at Mike to make sure he had not changed his mind.  He nodded.

“This is Bethany.”

And it was perfect.  We were surrounded by our three older children, gazing at this perfect baby girl in my arms.  Covered in vernix and still attached to her thick long umbilical cord.  Her little eyes squeezed tightly shut.  She was tiny, but chubby.  She was everything we ever dreamed…  She was our rainbow baby, born right there in our bedroom.

I stayed in the tub to deliver the placenta.  I kept thinking that I wanted to keep all the mess confined to the tub.  That worked perfectly.  Afterwards, we moved to the bed – my soft and cozy bed!  That was amazing!

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Bonding with Bethany

No hospital gowns, no IVs, no needles.  No constantly monitoring the baby or being poked and prodded.  No strange nurses coming in and out at all hours.

Our midwives were there, but by then they were like family.  They busied themselves cleaning up and doing everything that they needed to do.  Our family was able to cuddle on the bed and bond with sweet Bethany. I am convinced that home birth is exactly the way to go and I am so glad we decided to switch in the last trimester.

Because of her very fast arrival, and the fact that it was only my husband and I, we did not get any pictures of the birth, or even soon afterward.  We did take some pictures when the midwives were there, but due to a faulty SD card, those did not make it.  These pictures taken 1 or 2 hours after her arrival are the youngest we have, but they will have to do!

All four kids enjoying getting to know one another!

All four kids enjoying getting to know one another!

I am beyond thankful for our little girl and her fast and safe entrance into the world.  From the first contraction at 5 am to her entrance at 8 am, she beat her siblings records by well over 13 hours!  Two of those hours were painful, but only 45 minutes were what I would call intense.  I am so very thankful we were home and NOT on the road to the hospital!

Big sister Addamay is already smitten. In typical 2-year-old fashion, she has claimed the baby as hers and does not want to share...

Big sister Addamay is already smitten. In typical 2-year-old fashion, she has claimed the baby as hers and does not want to share…

She has already become a wonderful addition to our family and we could not imagine life without her!

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My Third Birth Story: My En Caul Water Birth

An en caul birth is where a baby is born still in its amniotic sac.  The bag of waters does not break and the baby is in a water balloon like clear sac at birth.  This is very rare and is said to occur only in 1 out of 80,000 births.  Legend says that babies born in the caul are said to be clairvoyant and possess supernatural abilities…

When I was pregnant with my third baby, my first girl, I knew I wanted a natural childbirth again.  We considered a home birth, but with our insurance at the time, a hospital birth would be fully covered and a homebirth was not covered at all.  Thankfully, the wonderful hospital based birth center where we gave birth to our second son was covered, so we chose to return there, even though it was almost an hours drive from our house. (Read my second birth story here. Or my first, where nothing went as planned, here.)

Four days before my due date, I knew that something was starting. I was supposed to teach that day, but I asked my husband (who I was co-teaching with at the time) to take over for me.  Nothing was really happening.  I’d had a bunch of Braxton Hicks and early labor contractions off and on for over a week, but nothing stuck.  That morning, however, I just had a feeling.

We were invited to go swimming at a friend’s house that day, which sounded like fun.  It was early May, but it was heating up and I was looking forward to a swim.  So the boys and I headed over that afternoon and swam in the frigid water.  I decided to be brave and swim into the deep end and tread water for a bit – brrrr it was cold!  But the activity got my contractions started.  Just easy early labor contractions like I had been having on and off for quite a while, but I thought they just might stick this time.

We drove home and my contractions continued.  They were not painful, yet, and they came every 10-15 minutes.  I went to bed that night wondering if they would stop or if they would progress.

I woke up about 3 am to painful contractions.  I couldn’t just lie in bed any longer, although I tried and dozed off between each one since they were only coming 3 or 4 times an hour.  By morning, they had picked up considerably and were coming every 5 minutes or so, so we decided to make the hour long trek to the hospital before driving in the car was too uncomfortable.

By 10 am, we made it to the hospital, which was very crowded.  Every room was full, except one basic delivery room without a birthing tub.  As soon as we walked inside, my labor stopped.  (This has certainly been a pattern for me.  My labor always stops when I reach the hospital…)  The midwife who had just come on duty was one of the three in the large midwife group that I actually knew, so I was happy about that.  Simone checked me and they monitored me for 20 minutes, but I was only dilated to 3 cm at this point, and my labor had stopped.  So, she suggested I go back home, or walk around town, get some breakfast, etc. to see if things would start up again.

I was devastated and embarrassed.  I wanted to have this baby, not go back home.  In hinds sight, I am so glad I was not admitted at that time.  Not being at the hospital helped my labor progress much faster than I think it would have if I was there, stuck in that tiny L&D room.


My husband and I decided to go out to brunch and see how things went from there.  As soon as we left the hospital, my labor started again, although just gradually.  I had a number of good contractions in the restaurant while enjoying my big plate of biscuits and gravy and fresh squeezed orange juice.  So afterwards, we decided to walk around town and down to the local university’s campus arboretum.  We were very familiar with this campus because we had graduated from there.

Walking through the familiar plants in the arboretum was very peaceful and my contractions got much more serious.  They were all over the place time-wise, though.  Sometimes they would be 15 minutes between them, sometimes there would be 3 minutes.  After a couple hours of walking, we made it back to our car and discussed the next steps.

I wanted to return to the hospital, but I was afraid they would just turn me away again.  My husband wanted to return home.  He was convinced I was still in early labor and we still had a long time before our baby would arrive. So, against my better judgement, we drove the hour long drive back home.

About half way there, my irregular contractions started to become very regular.  They came every 5 minutes, then every 4, and eventually every 3 minutes by the time we arrived home.  And they were starting to get to the point where I had to really concentrate to get through them.

The boys (ages 4 and almost 6) were excited that we were home already, they were at home with my mother-in-law, and they wanted to meet the baby.  I felt terrible telling them that she wasn’t here yet.  And to make things more complicated, my mother-in-law had some friends visiting who happened to be driving by and had stopped in to visit.  I wasn’t exactly the best hostess as I said a quick hello and then went back to hide in the bedroom.


My husband had a field trip planned with his students the following day and was debating whether or not he should postpone it.  He was talking on the phone with his boss as he walked into the bedroom and I heard him say, “yes, false alarm.  She’s still in early labor, so it could be days still.”  And he did not cancel the trip for the following morning.  At that point, with intense contractions coming every 3 or 4 minutes, I lost it!

“I am NOT in early labor!”  I snapped at him.  My poor husband gave me a sympathetic look and left the room to finish the conversation.

Our guests (or my mother-in-law’s guests) left, so I came out of the room and decided to try to watch a movie with the boys.  We put on Despicable Me II since I had not seen it yet and thought it might be a good distraction.  I still have not seen that movie. LOL!

I moved around the house, sitting on my yoga ball, trying some different yoga positions, leaning against the kitchen counter.  Finally, I told my husband – “I really think we need to go back to the hospital.”

My mother-in-law agreed, so we loaded back into the car, after being home for about 90 minutes, and returned to the hospital.  I had no idea how far along I was, but I suspected I must be near transition.  I started to time my contractions using my phone as we made our way back.  We called the midwife and let them know we were coming back and she assured me that there would be a tub room waiting when we arrived.


My contractions were coming every 3 minutes, then every 2 minutes, and eventually I would only have 30 seconds to a minute between each.  I concentrated on the air vent in front of me and wished that I had my scripture cards from my birth bag to meditate on.  Since I didn’t have those, I just said the name of Jesus, over and over, mostly in my head, as I breathed through each contraction.  It was painful, yet it wasn’t.  I seemed to transport out of myself when I focused on His name.  There IS power in His name.

My husband had finally decided that I must actually be in labor and was starting to get worried that we might actually have this little one in the car!  When traffic slowed (it was after 5 pm at this point) he seriously considered driving in the emergency lane, but thankfully it only slowed for a minute and then picked back up again.

We reached the hospital birth center and I attempted to make it to the door, but with breaks between contractions only lasting 30 or 45 seconds, I didn’t make it to the door without having to lean on my husband and breath through another one.  They knew who I was at the check in desk and led me into my room.  All was peaceful and calm, unlike when we had been there that morning.  I was the only mother in labor.

They hooked me up to the monitors for my mandatory 20 minutes of monitoring at check in.  It was torture to try to lie still while they put the two monitors on my stomach and started the test.  My husband started a calming CD and I tried to breath through each contraction, but was distracted by having to stay in one position for so long.  It was the only time during this labor that I felt was unbearable – I had finally learned how to NOT focus on the pain, but being strapped to a machine was more than I could take.

The nurse started to fill up the birthing tub since she could tell I would want it as soon as I finished my test.

The nurse we had was wonderful.  Later, we found out that she was a Christian and had been praying over the entire delivery.  Since she had no other patients to attend to, she stayed with us and rubbed my back.  At the end of 20 minutes, our midwife came in (she had been taking a dinner break).  But before she could even check me, my contractions changed.  I felt the urge to push.


At first I didn’t say anything and just pushed through the first one – it felt so good.  Then I decided I better say something, so I told the midwife.  She went to check my dilation, thought better of it (this was my third), and told me that if I wanted to have this baby in the water, I had better get in the tub! ( I was only checked at 3 cm dilated that morning.)

The warm water felt so good and eased the pain significantly.  I tried pushing in a squatting position and then on all fours, but wasn’t getting too far.  My midwife suggested I turn over and push from a sitting position with my legs bent up.  That worked and my baby girl started to crown.

The CD we were listening to stopped at that point and my thoughtful husband asked if I wanted him to restart it or put in something different.  “No!  Get the camera!” I told him instead.

At this point, my water still had not broken, so the bag of waters ballooned out as I was pushing her head out.  As she slipped back before the next contraction, the bag of waters stayed out, holding me open so that she came out easily on the next push, still in her bag of waters.

This in the only picture we have of Addamay still in the sac. It is no longer covering her head, but you can see it around her shoulders and my hands.

This in the only picture we have of Addamay still in the sac. It is no longer covering her head, but you can see it around her shoulders and my hands.

The midwife swept her out of the water and quickly broke her bag and released her head.  She was perfect and covered in vernix like frosting as she was placed on my chest.  It was so quick that we don’t have any pictures of her “en caul” and my memory of the event is blurry as I was kind of busy at that time…

We were only in the hospital about 45 minutes before our precious little Addamay was born.  She was perfect, just like her brothers – her blue eyes, button nose, and round head had us captivated from the start.  And she was not “too big” as a late ultrasound predicted she would be.  She was 8 lbs 6 ozs, just under the 8.5 lbs that our midwife had predicted using just her hands.

She latched on immediately and nursed in the tub and then on the bed.  I had a severe tear with her, which took some time to sew up.  However, I also healed quicker and had a better recovery with her than with the boys, so I can’t complain.

A few hours after her birth, she's all cleaned up and ready to sleep.

A few hours after her birth, she’s all cleaned up and ready to sleep.

We spent the night at the hospital and chose her name in the morning.  We are terrible about picking out names, so we had a short list to choose from.  Addamay means Noble Child of Light and is very unusual, but is the combination of two very familiar names.

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Being greeted by her grandmothers and her brothers just as we came in the garage door.

And just like our previous births, we requested early check out from the hospital.  We were home by late morning the following day.

Her big brothers could not get enough of her.

Her big brothers could not get enough of her.

Thankfully, Addamay settled right into home life and slept beautifully among the familiar loud sounds of her brothers playing.  She was restless and unhappy at the hospital, but as soon as we were home, she was as happy as could be.

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